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Halo: Warfront Chapter 3
Posted By: Adlin Yusman Yusoff<ayusman@bigpond.net.au>
Date: 20 September 2003, 4:37 PM

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0645 Hours, December 21, 2552 (Military Calendar)/UNSC
Lifeboat Firebird, Orbiting Earth. The view from the lifeboat's tiny window screen was grave.
The Covenant armada was massive-the chief counted at least 2 dozen carriers and
many more 'Seraph' class ships. But something wasn't right. While an armada of
this size would clearly be enough to wipe out any planet in the known solar
system; it didn't make sense why the covenant would bring an entire armada and
circle around orbit like sharks waiting for its prey to go soft. They
could've glassed us a long time ago, he thought.  "Chief," said a soft female voice, interrupting his train
of thought, "I was just in contact with Admiral Rundell. He says that things
aren't going well out there."   The Chief took another glance out the window, and was
surprised to find out that there were only a dozen UNSC frigates engaging the
Covenant armada; and they didn't seem to be doing well. What happened to the
rest of the fleet, he wondered. Destroyed? Unlikely, he thought. The debris
surrounding Earth's orbit-filled with both Covenant and Human vessels alike-was
not large enough to warrant an assumption that a massive space engagement had
occurred. Did the Covenant attack come in at such an inopportune time that Earth
was unable to compose a reactionary force? Possibly. Where was the mighty UNSC
fleet when it was needed the most?  "Our extraction point at alpha-six-niner has been changed.
The Prometheus is locked in combat-she can't pick us up chief, "
Cortana's voice dropped a notch, "we're on our own." "Is there a way for us to punch a hole through the
battlefield?" asked the Chief. "Not without blowing us out of the sky," replied the AI. "Any ships inbound for Earth? There are only a dozen ships
out there, where's the rest of the fleet? Have they all been destroyed?" the
Chief asked. "Negative, the Admiral explicitly ordered all battle ready
ships to hold their positions," Cortana's body suddenly changed colours and an
astral chart appeared all over her holographic image. "The Covenant's got us
cornered pretty bad, but we've got an ace up our sleeve."  Red dots started emerging everywhere on the astral chart.
Just as quickly as the dots appeared it vanished, and was replaced by UNSC
vessel designations. The chief knew what they represented, and he cracked a
smile under his Duranium enforced helmet. "Galaxy class Star-destroyers? I never
knew we had so many." Said the chief, clearly surprised. "They didn't want the Covenant to find out-only a handful
of military personnel were informed. And me of course." Cortana replied, with a
wide grin on her face. The Chief signaled for Cortana to show him a visual of the
vessels on standby. "Just give me one second. Let me patch through one of the
lead ships." A few seconds later, her foot high holo projection faded
away and was replaced by a video feed of the fleet. There were over four dozen
warships (about half the size of a frigate class starship) orbiting the dark
side of the moon. Fleetcom had figured that since the Covenant had passed all
the outer colonies, they would overlook Luna as well-and they were right. The
ships exhibited a green hue from their guiding sensors, and according to rumours
which the chief had heard; these ships had artificial gravity which might
explain the relatively small size. The lack of a longitudinal rotating gravity
generator might just make this ship maneuverable enough to cut through the
field. But how did a fleet of this magnitude avoid detection-surely the
Covenant's scanners were known to detect even a bug on a starship. How did we
get away with four dozen galaxy class ships? "Cortana, are we jamming their scanners?" the chief asked. A moment later, the video feed blinked off and Cortana's
image reappeared. "I bet you're wondering why the Covenant's not doing
anything to those ships orbiting Luna." Cortana replied. "The Galaxy class
starships are equipped with a state of the art stealth modulator. They're
invisible to all forms of scanners-and thanks to those guys back home-we've
found a way to fool the Covenant's scanners as well."  At least we'll still have the element of surprise on our
side, thought the chief. Earth still has a fighting chance just as long as we're
able to punch a whole through the Covenant fleet. The Chief keyed in a few
commands on the console in front of him, and ordered Cortana to patch him
through to Admiral John Rundell who was stationed aboard the Archimedes. He was hoping to hear the voice of a calm general on the other end of the feed,
but what he heard caused his genetically enhanced heart to stop beating. "Sir, they've just broken into our formation!" came a voice
from one of the galaxy class cruisers-on a broadband frequency.  The Spartan hurriedly activated the video feed, and saw a
dozen slipstream gateways opening-and about two dozen Covenant carriers emerged
from the rift in space. The Covenant were renowned for their pin sharp accuracy
in determining a jump point, but he never knew that anyone could make a jump
within a star system without missing the target by a few planets. The
Covenant vessels which were waging the battle over Earth's orbit, turned to face
the new threat emanating from the Lunar sector. The voices over the general
frequency grew louder and with every passing minute-the tension in their voices
were reaching its boiling point. Suddenly a booming male voice came in amidst
all the radio chatter. "I want you to calm down." Boomed to lone male voice."This is General Havoren Hague, Chairman of the Joint
Cheifs. I repeat, I want you to calm down." Barked the General. "Norton," said the General. "Yes sir," replied an AI which was standing five feet away
from him on a holographic module the size of a peanut. This AI was created in
tandem with the Cortana project, he even looked like Cortana if it wasn't for
the obvious male elements on his holographic projection.  "Give me the ETA on the seventh and thirteenth fleet." the
General ordered. "Approximately, 8 hours, 25 minutes, and 15 seconds sir."
Replied the AI. God damn it. We won't even make it past the hour.  "Norton, what's the status on the Neutron bombs?" the
General enquired, his voice sounded shaky. "T-minus 48 minutes 07 second, sir. May I remind you sir,
that the deployment of the Neutron bombs over Earth's orbit will wipe out the
entire UNSC fleet, not to mention the risk of shattering the Earth's atmosphere
as well." The expression on the AI's face changed to suit the grimness of the
situation.  "I know the costs involved Norton-and I hope to god that it
doesn't have to come to that. But I will not hesitate if it does come to that- I
will swipe down our foes with the hand of god itself, and may he forgive me for
the consequences of my actions." 0700 Hours, December 21, 2552 (Military Calendar)
Provisional Fleetcom HQ, Mozambique.  The General was stationed on Earth, in the provisional
Fleetcom HQ in Mozambique. He could see the battle raging over the dark side of
the moon (through his extremely large wallscreen), but clearly he couldn't
really feel what was going on. At the bottom left of his wallscreen, there was a
casualty report which showed how many ships had been lost-the tally showed a
number- 06-00. It was like a Hoverball match, except this time, the home team
wouldn't be able to stay for the closing ceremony. How he wished he was up there
with those brave men and women, fighting for the lives of every living breathing
person on this planet and all the other colonies which surround it. He could
hear every single spoken word and see every single UNSC vessel fighting for the
fate of the human race-it was the battle of the line, and things weren't looking
too bright.  "Patch me through the Archimedes." Said the General,
as an AI transmitted his request. "Unable to comply sir, the Covenant's jamming our
frequency, we're starting to lose contact with the fleet." Replied the AI,
nonchalant. Bastards. Suddenly a broken feed came through the
voicecomm.   "Additional contacts sighted all over the place..." the
interference grew louder and the General could barely make out the last few
words. "I want you to get to rally point Alpha." ordered the
Admiral, trying to sooth the soldier down-hoping he had heard his order.  A bright flash of light covered the wallscreen-one of the
UNSC Galaxy class vessels, The Omicron, was burned to a crisp by one of
the Covenant carriers thermal cascade weapon. The tally increased to:- 07-00.
The General grimaced, but continued to transmit his orders through the voicecomm.Please, let me get through. "General, a covenant carrier has just landed 10 clicks from
here," said one of the military personnel, "They've deployed there troops sir-"
he stopped to swallow a large gulp of saliva, "ETA, 20 minutes." Shit. The Provisional base hasn't been properly
prepped for a full ground assault, even the perimeter cannons were still being
calibrated. We need some reinforcements, and we need them now.  "Lieutenant," the General said, looking through the eyes of
the man who told him the news, "Give me the logistics." "30 Battalions comprised of Elites, Brutes, Hunters and
Jackals, and about 6 dozen assault vehicles in sorties, sir." Replied the
Lieutenant. 30 Battalions. They both looked into each other's
eyes and knew there and then, that they didn't have the necessary firepower to
fight back the covenant invasion. How'd they discover the base so quickly? "General, I have Admiral Jonathan Rundell on voicefeed
one," the AI said, taking the General away from his thoughts. "Admiral you can't let them maintain orbit." The General
said with a grim voice. "I'm trying General but we've lost our advantage within the
perimeter. Those fighters don't have enough punch to take out a Covenant assault
carrier. Much less 12 of 'em." "Your pilots are fighting as hard as they can Admiral, but
down here, it's the goddamned Apocalypse." The General said, his tone growing
harsher. "We've got war on our hands and I don't think we can hold out for long.
I'm asking you to re-target the orbital cannons..." "They've been knocked out General...There's nothing more I
can do.." interrupted the Admiral. Suddenly a cool female voice punched through the
interference laden communications loop.  "Admiral tell your men to hold their
positions-reinforcement is on the spook." Cortana said, while the Chief was
moving towards the emergence hatch. He grabbed a pair of MA5B assault rifles and
a dozen grenades. His HUD resetted and the MA5B's ammo count appeared just below
his regenerative shield bar. His MJORNIR armor flashed as the shield tested
itself for consistency.  "The entire fleet is engaged Cortana-with all due respect
what the hell sort of reinforcement have you got?" said the Admiral through the
Chief's internal communicator.  The Chief finally reached the emergency exit and tapped a
few buttons on the console in front of him. The duranium enforced gate pried
itself open and space swirled its way inside the depressurized cabin. The Chief
was holding on to a pillar, the MJOLNIR suit reacted to the depressurizing cabin
and his shields dropped a notch.  "Are you sure about this?" Cortana asked, clearly sounding
worried. "You got any better ideas?" the Chief replied, unfazed. Just as he was about to let go of the pillar another random
voice came through the feed.                                                
                        "We are unable to hold our position, I repeat...unable to
hold our position..proximity zero..there's too many..." the voice crackled and
suddenly there was silence. The Chief slowly peered his visor over the pillar and
prepped his suit for the jump. "What if we miss?" asked Cortana, sounding slightly
apprehensive. "I won't." replied the Chief as he jumped into the abyss.